Allie Fridstein is a Licensed Professional Counselor based in Ohio specializing in life transitions, self-esteem and LGBTQIA, gender, & sexuality topics. We asked Allie more about her work with clients and her guiding philosophies on therapy.
Allie’s background and personal life
How did you decide to become a therapist?
I always loved talking to others from all walks of life, but my experiences working in hospice care and at the suicide hotline solidified my desires to become a therapist. There is so much power that emanates from human connection, especially during a person's darkest hours. The understanding of how valuable it is for a person to feel accepted, validated, and supported drove me towards pursuing my mental health counseling career.
Being a therapist is not about saying the exact perfect thing, it's about showing up for someone and reminding them how worthy they are of love and care exactly as they are.
Allie’s specialties and therapy philosophies
What guiding principles inform your work?
Helping clients create and navigate change through a lens of self-compassion
Can you tell us more about your specialty in helping clients navigate major life transitions?
Change is hard! We as humans tend to feel comfort in predictability and routine, and change (especially when sudden, unexpected, or tragic) inherently challenges us to sit with discomfort. It can be difficult to understand "why" certain things happen and we can feel lost in trying to explain the gravity of its impact. Even deliberate and "happy" changes like starting a new career, getting married, journeying through gender transition, or beginning a sober lifestyle can still cause a myriad of complicated emotions as we adjust to our new lives.
Finding meaning in those changes while learning coping skills to manage the added stress is an empowering, healing, and worthwhile endeavor. Together, we can cultivate a sense of understanding of what these changes mean for you, create a space for you to explore the full scope of your emotional responses, and set a path for how you want to move forward.
Can you tell us more about your specialty in helping clients with self-esteem and/or self-worth struggles?
There is such immense societal pressure for us to meet unrealistic expectations. We must be the perfect child, the perfect worker, the perfect friend, the perfect partner, the perfect parent, the perfect community member, the perfect person. We are human, perfection does not exist. Full stop. ...And yet so many of us experience cripplingly low self-esteem as we reckon with our own imperfections or perceive ourselves as not living up to others' expectations.
Together, we can unpack where some of these beliefs and expectations came from, which of these beliefs continue to serve you well, and which ones may be worth updating to fit who you are today. We can explore your strengths and what it can look like to more authentically honor your own needs and values. We can practice setting and maintaining boundaries with others to ensure your time, energy, and efforts are spent according to your own values instead of someone else's.
Can you tell us more your specialty in working with members of the LGBTQIA+ community?
Being a member of the queer community is such a blessed and beautiful experience. However, we live in a society in which not everyone treats LGBTQIA+ folks with the kindness, respect, and humanity we deserve, which understandably results in many queer folks developing symptoms of anxiety and depression from enduring years of belittlement, rejection, and worse.
I want queer and trans folks to experience the love, compassion, and natural growth we deserve. With my background in trauma-informed care, I provide a safe space for self-exploration, free of judgement and full of curiosity of what your authentic self looks like. What are the relationship dynamics, professional goals, creative endeavors, and cultural pursuits that will allow you to thrive? You are more than just your sexual and gender identity, you are a whole person worthy of care and growth.
I humbly clarify that as a cis queer woman, I do not have first hand knowledge of what it is like to be trans, but I want to use my privilege as a mental health professional to develop safe and trusting relationships with our trans siblings. Part of this commitment includes providing pro-bono assessments and letters for trans adults pursuing gender affirming medical care. You belong and are welcome here.
What do you find most rewarding about your work?
It may be corny but truly and deeply, there is something magical about watching someone shift towards self-compassion. One of my favorite things to do with clients is unpack and disentangle years of guilt and shame, to help them determine what is theirs to hold and atone for vs. what is not their pain to hold on to for someone else. I like to remind people, kindness is not void of accountability, so how do we address past mistakes or present errors in thinking while showing ourselves the same kindness we so freely afford to others?
Therapy sessions with Allie
Are there any books you often recommend to clients?
On the psychology side:
- Brené Brown's "Rising Strong" & "Atlas of the Heart"
- KC Davis' "How to Keep House While Drowning"
- Viktor Frankl's "Man's Search For Meaning"
- Kristin Neff's "Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself"
- Devon Price's "Laziness Does Not Exist"
- Carl Rogers' "On Becoming a Person"
On the general empowerment side:
- Brandon Kyle Goodman's "You Gotta Be You"
- Audrey Gordon's "What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Fat"
- Jeffrey Marsh's "How to Be You"
- Michael Schur's "How to Be Perfect"
Do you assign “homework” between sessions?
The short answer is yes, usually.
Throughout my years as a counselor, I’ve curated quite a selection of workbooks, worksheets, psycho-education materials, journal prompts, and exercises that have received immensely positive feedback from my clients. Topics range from challenging cognitive distortions to increasing self-compassion to developing assertive communication skills to setting/maintaining boundaries to body positivity to learning how addiction impacts the brain to mindfulness/grounding exercises to atoning for past mistakes (and many many more).
Just to be clear, homework is absolutely not mandatory. I will, however, gently point out that a significant majority of my clients who experience efficient progress towards their mental health goals put in work both within and outside of session. Ultimately healing happens at whatever pace feels right for you, and I will always meet you where you are.
How do you help ensure I'm making progress in therapy?
During our first session, we will establish your treatment goals and I'll encourage you to be as concrete and specific as possible. Ex. not just "I want to feel better about myself" but "I want to establish habits that ensure I feel fulfilled and balanced." "I want to learn to speak with more self-compassion and create space for both kindness and accountability." "I want to better understand my own values so that I can act with more alignment to my own needs." "I want to learn how to set and maintain better boundaries with loved ones so that we feel equitably valued in our relationships." Throughout treatment, we'll be checking in on what changes you've noticed in regards to those goals, and we can update plans accordingly.
How do I know that it’s time to start seeking therapy?
Tell me if this resonates…
Has it been hard for you lately to manage your daily stress? Like your typical coping strategies haven’t been enough?
Have you felt the pressure to be more “put together” than you really are? Do you deny yourself the opportunity to focus on your needs because it feels more important to “be strong” for others? And do you bottle your emotions because you don’t want to “burden” others with what you’re going through?
Do you wish you had someone to talk to about the gravity of these changes? Someone non-judgmental, compassionate, straight forward, collaborative, and empowering?
It's time to start seeking therapy, you deserve care.
How will I know it’s time to end my time in therapy with you or reduce session frequency?
I want to assure you, I don't believe you're supposed to be in therapy forever. The purpose of therapy is to develop skills and tools for managing stressors, processing your past, fostering healthy relationships, establishing a sense of identity and self-worth, creating sustainable habits, etc. This is why establishing your specific treatment goals early on is so essential. What are concrete ways you will know you've met your goals and know you are well equipped to handle these issues through your inner resources and natural supports?
Yes, things will always be changing, but you may not always need professional support and guidance. It is extremely common for clients to reduce frequency of our sessions over time as a means of testing their ability to navigate stressors on their own, and if they decide they feel confident in their consistency to use their internal resources and the lessons learned in therapy, then we know they are ready to end their treatment with me.
Why should I seek therapy, rather than turning to my partner, friends, or other loved ones?
Friends, partners, family, etc are what we call "natural supports." And natural supports are awesome to vent to about stuff! However...therapy isn't just venting.
- Developing emotion regulation skills
- Learning alternative ways to problem solve
- Processing how our personal histories impact our present relationships with others and ourselves
- Exploring new ways to relate to our environments
- Practicing different communication techniques
- Cultivating increased senses of self-worth and identity
- Unlearning behaviors that no longer serve us
- Creating new perspectives and ways of thinking
- Challenging ourselves to honor our needs and values
- Receiving unbiased feedback from a non-judgmental, confidential, and safe third party
And that last bullet is a big distinction too, right? Confiding in a therapist means not putting yourself at risk of having your information held against you, having intimate details accidentally or intentionally shared with others in your life, or having your experiences invalidated by someone who "remembers it differently" or wants you to behave a particular way to protect existing potentially damaging dynamics. A therapist is always in your corner and puts your wellbeing first each and every session.
Visit Allie’s profile to watch her introductory video, read more about her, and book an initial call!